He lived ready... Aaron S. Williams, 29, passed away February 4, 2010 following a long, proud and fierce battle with kidney cancer. A valiant warrior, he lived his life with graceful purpose. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16, Aaron deliberately marched to the beat of a different drum, defying all medical odds to graduate from Brentwood Christian High School in 1999 and the University of Texas in 2004 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. His talents were employed as a Research Engineer at U.T.'s Center for Electro-Mechanics. Aaron taught us how to live. His indomitable spirit, unwavering obsession for Star Wars and gaming, selfless love for family and friends, and contagious passion for Christ inspired all.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aaron, I miss you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Lovers- Our Wedding Day from Aaron's POV

Some of you know that I kept a journal of Sam and my courtship. He always joked that he had no memory worth speaking of. So in the first week of our budding romantic relationship, I started the official record. I gave it to him as a wedding gift the first night we spent as man and wife. I even left the last two pages blank for him to record his thoughts about our wedding. What follows is a faithful transcription of his words---creative spelling and all.
May 19th, 2007 started like most every day. I woke up and did something productive. This time I hung a pot rack in the kitchen. The I showered and ran to meet my groomsmen to get ready for my wedding. Of course I forgot several thing that I had to go back and take care of which made me late but got me a free pizza because of my upcomming marrige. My groomsmen, ushers and I then drove down to the wedding site. I learned everything they knew about Startcraft 2 on the way. Once we got there we got cars parked where they were supposed to be the got dressed being very care full to not see the bride. We got pictures taken with the grooms side of the Bridal Party then I was sequestered while the Bride was photographed. The groomsmen took turns keeping me company while I listened to people arriving and the musicians set up. The food arrived too early and there was some panic when someone thought I wasn't in the the room but at that point everything had been set in motion and was out of my hands. Then the time came for me to go out. People had been asking me if I was nervous and I always responded "I made this decision 3 years ago and I have not seen anything since to change my mind." As I walked out the door towards the gazzebo I caught a glimps of Tara. Her beautiful face surrounded by a white nimbus cloud off through the trees. I had never loved her more than at that moment. I seated the mothers and the bridesmaids came out. From the moment I saw my bride again the rest of the world ceased to exist. She was radiant and beautiful and she was mine. She was glorious. The vows were my favorite part as her attention was mine and It was so obvious to me that she had memorized her vows, just like the note she had sent to me earlier that day, it showed how much she thought of me and I reveled in it. I enjoyed the rest of the ceremony with my wife and when we were alone that night she gave me this book which I dearly desire to read. I have attained what few will. I am completed perfectly Aaron.

memories from the guild part two

I have two memories of SAM that stand out in my head. I don't know if this is 100% official or not, but I remember the first Molten Core raid that Corsairs ever went on, and how nervous and exciting it was. And do not ask me why, but I clearly remember Startamer winning the roll for Stryker's Mark off of Magmadar, and getting the Guild's first Epic raid drop. And I was so happy that SAM got it. He was the epitome of what Corsairs are all about, a bunch of friends who get together to play and have fun, and at the same time drop an epic bow in the hands of our hunters and you can kiss your DPS meter goodbye. It was the first time I felt like I was in a real guild, even though our numbers were small. With SAM out front, leading the way. For about 2 sec until the mob turned him into night elf jelly.

(I dug back through the archives a bit tonight and Eric first told us about raiding the Core with Divinity on May 29, 2006, and on June 4th he sent an email stating "Startamer has 12 DKP due to paying for the epic bow he won")

The other thing I remember is going on Friday night Naxx scrub runs, playing catch up while others were hammering out the quirks in Ulduar. I had heard a little bit about what was going on with his health by then. He would play for as long as he could, but generally wasn't able to finish an entire clear in one night. Near the end of the run he would send me a tell, apologizing but that he had to leave early. And I would think to myself... here is a guy listening to Pat bitching about a rough work week, and he's not saying a word. If I live to be 100, I won't know a fraction of the pain that SAM went through, and not only is he not complaining about it, but he's apologizing because he thinks he's letting his friends down because of it. That is the kind of person I want to be, someone who truly understands what is important in life.

I think we learn from every person we meet in life. I never met SAM in person, but I pray that I never forget the lessons he taught me.

I think that last one was from Patrick


I too only met Sam once briefly over a meal, but he was a good friend after years of interacting via WoW and TS.

Sam was always pushing to do more, and especially pushed COKT to do think bigger. His fingerprints are all over COKT as we know it today, from expanding our members, to policies, but most importantly – to the wonderfully positive, infectious impact his attitude had.

I credit Sam with making our BC 25-man raids happen – and those raids were a lot of fun and re-invigorated COKT from the stagnant dead-end of running Kara week after week with no further 10-man options. I also really valued the perspective that Sam brought to our officer email exchanges, especially the long and very intense debates we had about the very first DKP system that was put in place for 25-man runs.

During one of our first 25-man runs, I think it was just after Gruul had cleaned our clocks and we only had Gruul down to 80%, Sam spoke up as everyone was running back in and getting ready to buff. He said, “We almost had him that time folks, we’ll get’em on the next attempt.” It didn’t matter how poorly things seemed to be going, he always knew we were one more attempt from success. That is the example I always think of when I think of Sam’s eternal optimism.

My funniest memory Erika already brought up – watching the utter chaos as he pulled the first set of pats in AQ20.

Lower the Jolly Roger to half mast and line up the 21 bow salute.


- Eric


Wow, where do I begin about Sam? It's hard to think back to which came first Sam or playing WoW with Sam - but there was a time before WoW. We shared real life group for years and eventually joined the guild through Sam after we learned that we were all playing WoW. Chups and I even left our old server and started new players - little did Chups know when he named my new character Starr that he was trampling on Sam's territory! Some of the best times I've had playing WoW have been with Sam and Tara.

If you thought he was amazing as Star, you should have known him in real life. He is one of the funniest, sweetest, and caring people I've ever known. The world shined a little brighter with him in it. But although we'll miss him achingly here, I know he lives on with our Father where there is no more pain.

I miss you Sam. Hope to see you again one day!!

Mel (Starr)

I don't think my memories of World of Warcraft would be the same without him involved.

memories from his friends on World of Warcraft

I wanted to share these emails that were sent when the guild had heard about Sam's death.

I had the pleasure of meeting Star and Tara once on a trip to Dallas. He was a fun person and easy to talk to. There was no ice to break -- we just jumped right in and had an enjoyable and very nerdy (and long) conversation over Mexican food, and even some margaritas. I'm sure the waiters were appalled with our discussion of WoW strat and WoW successes/failures. Goodkitty was even dressed like a kitty. Star looked like a jedi knight in training.

To me what was so amazing about Star was to have been such a positive person even though he was battling a devasting disease for half his life. He always brought humor, optimism, and a lightness to our runs. I have many fond memories of playing WoW with him. Here are a few.

- Star pulling AQ20. We would all stand in the back (way back). Remember how we sent him out there to "go get us started, Star"? Inevitably chaos would follow, and generally half the people would run out of the instance. It was always good for a fun laugh and he never seemed to mind being the sacrificial hunter.

- The uncharacteristic Star, having a drink during Gruul's lair. It must have been a special occasion, for Star was having a drink during a night of raiding Gruul. Star was mumbling about needing to go to sleep, and Goodkitty chimed in with something to the effect, of "dont worry honey, I'll take care of you". It was very sweet :)

- Starczar, organizing the Friday night runs. This was a thankless job, and he always tried his darndest to get people involved in the runs. His emails on the drafts were funny, but my favorite was the way he signed off -- Starczar.

Peace to you Star - we will miss you,


There are so many good things I could say about this man. Sam and Tara have long been two of my favorite people, ever since I met them through Aaron five or six years ago. He was always a pleasure to be around - a kind and gentle spirit, without anything bad to say about anyone. That said, he was also a ton of fun, with a very amusing penchant for mischief.

More relevantly to this particular group of people, Sam was the guy that let me know about this guild back in the BC era. He was the reason I kept playing this game, to be quite frank. Then he lured his best friend, and one of my best friends, into the addiction with us, which made it so much better.

I'll miss him.



Since a lot of people in the Corsairs and on this list are open about their spiritual beliefs, I will be too in tribute to SAM.

I hope to see you again next time around, SAM. Hopefully we'll be nearby enough that we can connect physically instead of just virtually.

SAM was a beautiful example of a human being, and I don't pass that kind of compliment out lightly. SAM was always so vocally reserved, but when he talked what he had to say was always poignant - whether humorous and witty (most often the case), or a good 'reality' check for the rest of us when we were getting down on ourselves for not accomplishing a goal. I really think SAM brought his never-quit-fighting attitude to every Corsair raid, as well as his terribly-worded emails that made me scratch my head and laugh in confusion. His web of beautiful, strong, and pure energy won't fade anytime soon for me, nor in the minds, hearts, and
lives of so many other Corsairs.



Michael Magnus Miller-Wilson

MEMORY: TEH HAWTNESS of Starlight. Elderly scantily clad female dwarven priest. And always willing to /dance in-between flash heals and fear wards!

To be continued in part two of this post.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CEM company Christmas Party 2009

I *think* this is last year's Christmas party. You can see Aaron and Tara in the foreground. Too many others to name. Good food. Good friends. We miss you Aaron!

CEM Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plug-in Bus test ride

Unfortunately, Aaron is somewhat hidden in this photo - he's sitting in the back of the bus, next to me. He is smiling big though. :) This must have been on Halloween or close to it, as you can see a few costumes among us.

Left-to-right: J.R., ?, Steve, Amanda (as a dog), Diala, AARON!!!, Theresa (me), ?, Lori (as Minnie Mouse), John, Adam, and Clay.

The bus runs so clean, you supposedly can drink the water that comes out of the exhaust. None of us tried it though!

CEM chili cookoff

Here is Aaron sampling chili at last year's May 2009 CEM chili cookoff. Some folks tasted them one at a time. Others, like Aaron, collected a sample from each pot and then sat down to try them one, by one. (My chili won first place by the way!)
Left-to-right after Aaron is Tim Beets, John Nodler, Robert Pearsall (background), and Colin Beal.
Everyone had a great time!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Memories of Aaron

My name is Angelo Gattozzi. I have been a co-worker of Aaron’s for the last 6 years.

I want to share with you a few additional details on Aaron.

Aaron and I started working together in 2004 when he was still an undergraduate student. In fact, I was happy to be his technical sponsor in his senior project. We were working on bringing on line a large power converter (2 MW). Toward the end of this task, especially, when we spent hours and days supervising and making sure that the converter was functioning continuously and reliably, we had a lot of time to engage in conversation of various kind. It was then that I realized how much Aaron and I had in common in our vision of work, family, country, life in general. The fact that it had taken me twice as long as Aaron to reach those viewpoints testifies to his unusual maturity.

Aaron would tell me all about his family: how Tara would soon graduate, how she was taking some courses in Latin, all about Choi’s progress in the Air Force, her eventual deployment in the Middle East (but she will be back soon!). He never said much about himself unless it was in connection with a family member, or a friend. So, he was telling me about playing some videogames with his friends based on some fantastic world of the type of Star Wars or Lord of the Ring, how he was going with Tara and some friends to the Renaissance Festival, etc. In fact he strongly recommended that I go to the Renaissance Festival with my family as well.

I am reporting below an example of the often playful interchanges between us at work. This e-mail is dated Oct. 4, 2006 (John Herbst was our program manager, Bob Thelen the senior member of our team, and ALPS was the code name of our project):

Most Exalted Compiler of Reports,
Thus i submit to your scrutiny the account of this past lunar cycle. May it find you in good health and better spirits.
Most humbly,

Angelo Gattozzi wrote:
Dear Sir Aaron Earl of Williams,
Your and my lord Sir John Archduke of Herbst, by way of his esteemed Bishop Robert de Thelen, will soon be looking for our report on our latest expedition in the ALPS in the month of September. Please send me a summary of your activity in this most dangerous but (almost) glorious effort.
Thank you and God save the King!
Salutations from your brother in arms,

Angelus Gatosius Italicus

Aaron Williams phone: (512) 232-1364

I think I will surprise no-one if I said that Aaron had a heroic view of life. He was called to be a hero and he responded to the call. His passion for knights and chivalry was the sublimation of the role he knew he had been called to fulfill in this life. A knight is never despondent even when facing the gravest danger. Neither was Aaron: I never remember him as being anything but positive. In the style of perfect chivalry, Aaron and Tara showed their support and solidarity when they visited me in the hospital, after my surgeries.

What you may not know is that his influence extended beyond his immediate surroundings. For example, when my children became teen-agers they started wanting to go to this movie or that or to play this videogame or the other. It was the most natural thing for me to ask Aaron’s opinion on such things. It got to the point that my children would spontaneously ask me to check with Aaron on what he thought about a movie or a game before engaging in such activity. And yes, my family eventually did go to the Renaissance Festival, all dressed up in Medieval suits: I myself was wearing a great knight outfit. When Aaron saw the pictures he simply said, beaming: “Nice!”.

My last e-mail to Aaron is reported below, dated April 11, 2009 (the Latin words translate into "He resurrected as He said, Alleluia! The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always"):

Hi Aaron,
I missed you in the last few days: my best wishes and prayers for you and Tara for a blessed Easter.
P.S. This is especially for Tara: “Resurrexit, sicut dixit. Alleluia! Pax Domini nostri Jesu Christi sit semper vobiscum”
Aaron, when are you going to learn Latin?

He never responded to this e-mail but stopped to see me a few weeks later: he was not well. It was the last time he would come in my office. Our knight has now been called to a higher Court.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stealing clipboards


Okay, the picture is not really related to the story, but it was so typical of Sunday School my senior year. At that time I was in charge of taking attendance for Sunday School, and Aaron greatly delighted in stealing the clipboard and finding the tallest shelf or the tallest speaker he could put it on.

And the boy was tall, so as you can imagine they tended to be very high up where no one else could reach it. Then he would just stand back and laugh as I tried to get it.

Video Tribute to Aaron

Choi made this video as a tribute to her brother. I provided some technical assistance but she was the artistic muse. In reality, Aaron did most of the work though... During his lifetime, he provided us with endless stories, quotes and photos.

Aaron's wild & crazy driving skills

I have lots of great memories of Aaron but the ones that stand out the most are the driving experiences that we shared. Aaron used to drive me & Choi around before either one of us had a driver's license. There was one time in particular where we were at a red light & after realizing that he was not in the turn lane he proceeded to reverse in the middle of the expressway in order to get into the turn lane. Several times he showed us his skill of driving without his hands. I also vaguely remember him accidentally backing into something & saying something like "No worries, I'm sure my car is fine." And on he went with his day while me & Choi were in the backseat freaking out. Choi insists that Aaron only drove this way with people that he liked and felt comfortable with. Looking back I think he enjoyed scaring me & Choi and got some good laughs out of it. =)

And I just now remembered the car that he used to drive us around in....his old beige Honda which had some black Star Wars symbols (?) painted on the hood by no one other than his sister! hahaha...Are there any pictures of that car? Good times, for sure!

Passed the Test

We only met Aaron a few times, but every time we met him he won us over with his character and humor. The meatball story is one of our favorites of the wedding. He was a really good guy and we are so glad Adam passed the "test" and that we were able to get to know him if even only briefly.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,


Don and Rhonda Messer

Fly Away Home

I was able to join the whole Williams family for Choi's graduation from USAFA in 2006.  After the festivities, Sam and I were dropped off at the airport to catch our flights back to Austin while everyone else drove back.  My flight was scheduled to depart a good three hours before Sam's, but it kept on getting delayed... first 20 minutes... then an hour... then two hours....  

I was somewhat dismayed, as this was the first trip I'd ever planned for myself by myself.  But Sam kept me company while I waited for news of my flight.  And he even kept my mind off my predicament by whooping me at a game of Cribbage!  :-)  When the time came for him to board his plane, I was still stuck in the airport with no end in sight.  He offered to stay with me until I could get onto a plane, taking his own chances with future flights, but I convinced him that I would be fine and shooed him onto his plane.  

Eventually, I learned that my flight was cancelled until the next day.  It would almost have been faster to drive back with Choi, but then I wouldn't have had those hours with my "other brother."  I'd call that time well spent!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aaron's Obituary in the Austin American-Statesman

He lived ready... Aaron S. Williams, 29, passed away early Thursday morning, February 4, 2010 following a long, proud and fierce battle with kidney cancer. A valiant warrior, he lived his life with graceful purpose. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16, Aaron deliberately marched to the beat of a different drum, defying all medical odds to graduate from Brentwood Christian High School in 1999 and the University of Texas in 2004 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. His talents were employed as a Research Engineer at U.T.'s Center for Electro-Mechanics. Aaron taught us how to live. His indomitable spirit, unwavering obsession for Star Wars and gaming, selfless love for family and friends, and contagious passion for Christ inspired all. His memory lives in the hearts of his adoring wife, Tara Williams; parents, Vern and Myra Williams; sister and brother-in-law, Choi and Adam Messer; and oodles of friends and family. A celebration of Aaron's life will be held at Hill Country Bible Church-Northwest on Saturday, February 13th at 2:00 p.m. Please wear Aaron's favorite color Black. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Aaron's memory to either Hill Country Bible Church-Round Rock's Benevolence Fund (206 West Main Street. Round Rock, TX 78664-5811) or Brentwood Christian School's Capital Campaign for the Theatre/Center for Science & the Arts (11908 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX 78753). We think this would make Aaron smile. http://aaronvaliantknight.blogspot.com/


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Grin Says It All

Aaron's Birthday 1997

The Test

When Aaron heard that his sister, Choi was interested in a young man at the Air Force Academy he sat down and wrote up a test to be taken by anyone wanting to date his sister, some of it was pretty hilarious. Aaron always had a way of letting you knew he cared through his humor. He was a joy to be around, you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. It was an honor to him.

The Buyer

Before we moved to Australia, Rob and I were selling our cars.  Sam expressed interest in my cute little Neon for Tara, so I did a little Blue Book research and arranged to meet with him.  We'd been friends for 13 years at that point, so I just came right out and told him what the Blue Book values were and how much I was willing to sell it for.  He gave me this disappointed look and told me that I really needed to learn to negotiate... he had been willing to give me $300 more than I quoted and had been really looking forward to haggling with me!  :-)  He got the Good Friend Discount.

Remembering a beautiful time

We first really met Aaron at Adam and Choi's wedding. We knew him, by reputation, before that through the many stories Choi shared with Kristin at USAFA.
Two things struck us at the wedding. Adam and Choi's love for each other AND the obvious bond between Aaron and Choi. He was like her "guardian angel brother" throughout. Aaron always had one eye on Choi and seemed to anticipate her every need. The love and respect between them was amazing! It was truly a thing of beauty.
We know that Aaron will continue to be Choi's "guardian angel brother"...only now, in the very real sense.
Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all. You will always be in our hearts.
With love
Bob and Judy

I Have Proof

Indeed, I do!  Sam did not always wear Black!  It is my personal opinion that he was "corrupted" by the dark side.  I mean, look at him!

Sam was never a really convincing Darth Vader-- too compassionate and much too good a sense of humor.